National Partnership for Women & Families

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Federal Judge Upholds Mass. Law Banning Protests Near Abortion Clinics

Federal Judge Upholds Mass. Law Banning Protests Near Abortion Clinics

February 24, 2012 — A federal judge on Wednesday upheld a Massachusetts law that bans protests within 35 feet of abortion clinic entrances and driveways, AP/The Boston Channel reports. The law, enacted in 2007, only permits people to enter the 35-foot zone to enter or leave a clinic or to reach a destination other than the clinic (AP/The Boston Channel, 2/23).

In a 30-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro rejected claims by antiabortion-rights protesters that the law violated their freedom of speech. He said the law provided "ample alternative means of communication because protesters may engage in any form of communication with their intended audience so long as they do not do so inside a clearly marked and posted buffer zone during clinic business hours."

The ruling was the second Tauro has made in this case. In August 2008, he ruled to uphold the constitutionality of the law itself. Wednesday's ruling focused on the legality of the law as applied (Finucane, "MetroDesk," Boston Globe, 2/22).